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Tracking the Past (Part 4)

Part 4: Mostly Infamous

Trideja was formed before Derek joined the group and in a way returned to three key creative talents. Dave was more confident in his pursuit of Total Eclipse II BBS, for many years the only release site of Trideja tunes to the world. It would lay the foundation for his current job as a system administrator for Rockstar Games. We had hopes of taking our music to the next level, turning professional.

Attending computer conferences, submitting music tapes. Answering responses to requests for game music which never turned out. The most compelling to me was a Asteroid inspired beta that needed some atmospheric aural backing. My infamous claim would come well after I had neglected my trideja.com email.

Meteor 2. James Bunting needed music, and through email I brashly gave him permission. These days its a charming throw back to top down shooters with a Paint.exe style aesthetic. I swallowed the pill of having a game that fit in some ways but not in others. I hadn’t tailored my tracks to first, they were just energetic and the visuals were underwhelming.

The community ate it up, however, and it’s something I’m known for. “You’re that guy from Trideja, right?” It might even make it on Greenlight, and I am grateful. Little successes uncounted are meaningless, but when noticed weave a fabric that can form a safety net for some of life’s more challenging times.

For instance: Betas. These were snippets of ideas, half realized patterns sometimes amounting to half-complete songs. Derek began to amass these, and would ask about ideas he was interested in. There are some that would never have been finished without his relentlessness.

We collaborated very well and somehow never realized our own potential, but not for a moment do I regret the time spent and fun had. Perhaps there’s room for another collaboration the future. If there’s something I can think to say now, it’s not to frown on a style of music but to look to the purity of its expression. Techno never stopped Bowie from advancing his mastery, nor did it fail to communicate his messages.

Yet down the road, after spending some time with DJs, having songs played in clubs, I became aware that my betas were a ball and chain. Can you imagine recording every jam session just to have the memory of every melody haunt you as wasted potential?

What a waste of time, but nothing is, when practice results in a performance greater than the last. Improvement comes from many quarters and can go unnoticed. My attitude of trusting the flow meant some songs bloomed and others busted, but I always put my best effort into them. The value in that is the lesson learned; don’t be dragged down by could-be.

Continues next week.

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Tracking the Past (Part 2)

Part 2: Quality vs Fidelity

We played our own computers as instruments and each wrote our own whole songs. In retrospect I only see now the high demands we had placed on ourselves. At the time I had the time, energy and talent to do that, but certainly without the support of the group it would have been futile.

Ryan had The Phone Call, which had some lewd humour, until we changed that and he released it on Total Eclipse II, Dave Toews BBS. Dave was tinkering with Mega Jammer and the quality of his samples was impressive, and drove me to raise the fidelity of my own work. Incidentally, it is humbling to realize that his sole track ranks higher in downloads than the showy mix I made of his samples many years later. That speaks well of the integrity of the song, arguably simplistic, but memorable. That’s worthwhile, and there’s gratitude owed there. So thank you, Dave.

At the time I had no sense of competition, which was best. I floundered along with heavy criticism from the then-founder of our group. It was his sampler that made my first track possible, but later my acquisition of samples from favored modules that set the tone and pace for all of my continuing works.

Oh, to name a few; 1991, Piano Plinker, After the Rain, Cortouchka!, anyone remember Batmeat? I’ve always liked that track, when I could tolerate it. Mods do require some tolerance. It was Burton’s flair for the dramatic that got everyone’s attention.

Meanwhile, I forged onward through tracks like ‘The Fire of my Soul’, which exhibited some of the teachings of my Dad, who saw the possibilities, and did try to learn. I later used some sampled riffs, somewhat ill-fated and perhaps unfocused. A valuable learning experience, nonetheless with its own impact on the gaming community at large.

In 1994 there was much pressure to improve, to be the equal of those Ryan and I listened to, and usually that was fine. What was I expected to write? We weren’t a demo crew, though we wanted to be. I was a budding artist and writer, and took to embedding short stories into the last sample of many of my early tracks. Load them out and they’re quite readable.

But if you know anything about me, it’s that I’m passive aggressive. That meant I wasn’t going to be content with my progress or position for too long. For a while, though, I was pleased to grow as a musician, discovering that I had talent and local impact.

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